Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wednesday Artist: Rosamond Purcell

I don't need subjects that are conventionally beautiful.
. . . Something that is obviously beautiful gets all the credit,
and then I don't have to do much work.
~ Rosamond Purcell*

Rosamond Purcell is the official photographer of the Mutter Collection, a medical history museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has worked with numerous natural history museums throughout the United States, creating beautiful images of the discarded and the decayed. Her collaborators have included the late paleontologist and science historian Stephen Jay Gould, essayist and literary critic Sven Birkerts, and Shakespeare scholar and Folger Shakespeare Library director Michael Witmore.

Purcell also is the subject of An Art That Nature Makes: The Work of Photographer Rosamond Purcell (Particle Productions, 2015), a 75-minute documentary by director Molly Bernstein and producer Alan Edelstein that makes its world premiere at this year's DOC NYC film festival, November 10-17. (The film, distributed by BOND/360, was screened this summer at New York City's Film Forum, August 10-16, and at Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles, September 2-8. It is scheduled for additional screenings in locations throughout the United States, including Columbus, Ohio; Bar Harbor, Maine; Salem, Massachusetts; and Bloomington, Indiana.)

The documentary showcases Purcell's gorgeous photographs of objects, natural and human-made, ordinary and strange, and includes interviews with filmmaker Errol Morris and author and magician Ricky Jay, among others who admire or have worked with her.

Here's the official trailer:


A.O. Scott, "Review: 'An Art That Nature Makes', an Illuminating Look at Rosamond Purcell", The New York Times, August 9, 2016 (Scott concludes his review by calling Purcell "our greatest living 17th-century photographer.")

Rosamond Purcell's books include:

✦ Landscapes of the Passing Strange: Reflections from Shakespeare (W.W. Norton, 2010) (Purcell's co-author is Michael Witmore.)

✦ Egg and Nest (Belknap Press, 2008) (Purcell's collaborators on this book are Linnea S. Hall and Rene Corado.)

✦ Owls Head: On the Nature of Lost Things (Quantuck Lane, 2007)

✦ Bookworm: The Art of Rosamond Purcell (Quantuck Lane, 2006)

✦ Crossing Over: Where Art and Science Meet (Three Rivers Press, 2000) (Purcell's co-author is Stephen Jay Gould.)

Rosamond Purcell on FaceBook

* Quoted from Jeremy Berlin, "Photos: Art of Collection", National Geographic, December 19, 2013 (Included is an online gallery of Purcell's photographs. View additional images from another issue of the magazine.)

DOC NYC on FaceBook

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